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Tables turn: Students teach Native American artists

January 18, 2011

When the Heard Museum opens the doors to its annual Indian Market, Mary Hood is there. You also might see her at the Santa Fe market, in art galleries and at powwows, and any other festival where Native Americans display their art.

She’s not there to shop for turquoise, or enjoy some fry bread. She’s on the hunt for artists to invite to the biennial “Map(ing)” project she runs at ASU.

Hood selects approximately a half-dozen artists, who work in various media, to participate in “Map(ing),” a project that brings together graduate printmaking students and the Native American artists to produce new works of art.

She creates “teams” of students to work with each artist, and over a five-day period in January the teams collaborate to create a new work of art, with the student printmakers serving as instructors to the artists.

“Most of the Native American artists have never done printmaking,” said Hood, who teaches printmaking in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. “The students get to be the experts, teaching the artists about printmaking, and the artists share their ideas with the students.”

The idea is to create community between the students and the artists, and to expand the artistic knowledge of both.

It’s a grueling schedule. The teams put in long hours during the five-day creation process, then the artists discuss their work at a public forum at ASU’s Night Gallery in the Tempe Marketplace.

“Map(ing)” concluded with a silent auction of the collaborative works. Two prints from each artist were auctioned off to benefit future “Map(ing)” events. The prints are on display at the Night Gallery, located in Tempe Marketplace, through Jan. 30.

When Hood selects Native American artists to invite, Hood looks for a diversity of ages, experience, and skills – a “good balance,” she said.

This year’s roster includes Ahkima Honyumptewa, Hopi, who creates drawings, weavings, Katchina Dolls, and carvings; Eliza Narajano Morse, Santa Clara Pueblo, who draws on canvas with micaceous clay and volcanic ash; Marilou Schultz, Navajo/Dine, a weaver; Hulleah Tsinhanhjinnie, Seminole/Muscogee/Dine, photography and video; Dallin Maybee, Northern Arapaho/Seneca, who is known for his beading and drawing; Wanesia Misquadace, Fond-du-Lac/Objibway, who practices the rare art of birch bark biting; and Randy Kemp, Choctaw/Cree/Euchee, who paints, draws, makes videos and performs music.

Students include Nicholas Dowgwillo, Caroline Battle, Karl Johnson, Lauren Kinney, Dana LeMine, Matthew McLaughlin, Kathleen Moore, Gabriela Munoz, Rachel Nore, Brett Schieszer, Nan Hutchinson-Vaughn, Nic Wiesinger, Patrick Vincent and Angela Young. Undergraduate students Tiffiney Yazzie, Tom Greyeyes, and Jelena Milesic also have been working with the artists.

It’s hard to say who benefits the most from the experience, or who works the hardest, the artists or the students

Dallin Maybee, who designed a 14-layer print, said that his team members, Caroline Battle and Kathleen Moore, have faced more challenges in the process than he has.

His print includes drawings of some of his favorite old cars, with running buffalos embossed between the cars, inspired by his family’s Plains culture. The first layer of the print is an inkjet image of an antique ledger page, followed by 12 layers of screen printing – one for each color – with embossing as the final step.

Battle said she was impressed that Maybee came in “knowing exactly what he wanted to do,” which helped their process along.

Student Kathleen Moore was part of a team for the first “Map(ing)” in 2009, and said she feels ”more technically savvy” this year as she works alongside the artist.

She also has learned “how much more you pay attention to the details when you’re printing someone else’s work.”

Moore agreed that there’s more pressure in printing someone else’s work. “Something you might let slide by in your work you can’t when it’s someone else’s,” she said.

Collaborating with the artists also helps the students broaden their horizons, Moore added. “It gets us out of our normal way of working.”

Some of the artists who hold jobs, take vacation time to come to “Map(ing),” and welcome the opportunity to spend uninterrupted time in the studio working on their art.

Randy Kemp, who graduated from ASU with a degree in art and now is an environmental graphic designer at ASU, and who was part of the first “Map(ing),” said he was thrilled to be in the studio in the School of Art with nothing to do but create his art.

His art is “of the moment,” he said as he daubed paint on a sheet of Plexiglas in preparation for making a monoprint. “I just paint something I’m feeling right now. There is no particular tribe or culture associated with it.”

Since the artists and students spend so much time together, they form bonds that will be long lasting, Hood said. “The connections last well beyond the project.“

Beyond artistic achievement, beyond the building of new relationships between artists and students “Map(ing),” is, above all, is another way of teaching, Hood said.

“Map(ing),” which grew out of a discussion between Hood and Joe Baker, former director of community engagement at the Herberger Institute, about “place,” is “another tool we have to educate students. It’s not just talking to them.”

For more information about the silent auction, complete biographies of the artists, and ways to get involved, visit